Faith and God's Faithful Timing

I am writing with an especially grateful heart. Last Wednesday my son was experiencing some intense abdominal pain which eased after awhile. His wife, Becca, tried to get him a medical appointment–but the nurse did not call him as they requested. So as it subsided mostly, they went about their lives. We knew it couldn’t have been his appendix because he had an emergency appendectomy a few years ago. This time we were suspicious it was his gall bladder. They have three sweet children–almost 6, 3 and a sweet baby girl who turns 11 months tomorrow. So when the pain began again Saturday evening, his wife Becca texted his sister and myself asking if either of us were awake! They needed help so they did not have to wake the children and deal with them! I quickly got ready and headed over to their home in the pouring rain–which took me about 15 minutes or so.

Andrew was in extreme pain. The children were asleep and I prayed as Becca and Andrew drove the 40 minute drive to the hospital for wisdom, safety and grace. I was concerned for that drive because it was so dark and rainy during my trip–but as they were heading north, things subsided weather wise. My daughter Elizabeth and I got on the phone and prayed that he would be seen quickly and get some relief. Both those things happened. His labs came back “normal” but with a tentative diagnosis of gall bladder issues like we thought. However no scans were done. He was sent home with anti-nausea and pain meds and instructions to see his primary care doctor on Monday. We assumed at that time that this “gall bladder attack” had passed, and he would be good to go until they could get him a doctor’s appointment.

By God’s grace the storm was not headed the hospital way–so they made it fine. We discovered once again that having “issues” on the week end bring delays. They had to wait for the tech to come in and do the needed scan. At first his lab work was fine–no fever etc. But within twenty minutes his temp was 102+! His gall bladder was infected. It needed to come out right away. Finally the on call surgeon arrived and he agreed surgery was needed. Becca was encouraged to learn his reputation was well thought of–which brought some added peace and trust. This amazing woman had very little sleep on Saturday night and here she was at the hospital again. A mayday call to family (my niece and nephew brought her food!) And another dear friend also came with coffee and sandwich. I am at their house watching the snow fall, wondering if she was going to be able to make it back home.

I had to tell the children why their folks weren’t home. It was amazing as I shared as easily and carefully as I could about their dad needing the sick part of his body removed, the three year old said “Can we pray?” I said of course! It was precious for the three children and I to pray sitting on the floor in his bedroom entrusting their father into our God’s care. A precious memory for sure! I am so grateful they have taught their children to turn to the Lord when troubles hit. The surgery was successful. The needed antibiotics cleared his blood stream and later on that day they released him and they were able to drive home between storms.

So grateful for God’s faithfulness, peace and strength. Few hours of sleep on Saturday and Sunday nights left both Becca and I very tired. As I was helping with the children I told the Lord, I am so tired, I am not sure how I can do this. Then, I said, I only have to do the next thing–I don’t have to live and do the whole day–just one thing at a time. I can do that. You will give me the strength I need. Peace came along with a deep breath and it was about 20 minutes later that we saw a light next door in her parents home! They drove six hours from Portland and arrived at 6:00 a.m. on Monday. We tagged teamed with the kids while Becca went back to the hospital. (Her mom is working in Portland, OR currently–we were blessed her boss gave her the time off.) We were so snowed in nobody else could come! School was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday–so we had about 5 inches of snow for the kids to play in. Cousins had given them outgrown snowsuits–so they were warm and dry. Small things like snow pants and gloves just make life easier in the middle of other concerns.

Other amazing things I am so grateful for–We were all there to see Adiana take her first steps. I found out my kindergartener Carabella could read! I also discovered our little Tobi boy has quite a sense of humor and vocabulary. Father God, I thank you for your faithfulness in getting this problem solved for Andrew–that the roads were clear when they traveled. I thank you for all the people praying for us and sending words of encouragement. I am grateful for your love. I don’t know why his gall bladder became inflamed and infected. I wish he did not have to go through that much pain–but I am grateful for the doctors and their care. I am grateful for a loving wife that is taking great care of him. I am thankful for our family who knows how to pray and ask for others to pray and for a God who answers in His Way and His Time.

I pray for each of us as we go “through the fire and storms of life” that we will have the grace and faith to look for Him in the midst. It is not easy. Not once did anyone say “why do we have to go through this?” We just walked it by faith. I know others have storms come with bigger waves and longer lasting affects (like autism, cancer or financial crisis) but I am grateful for His faithfulness to get us through this storm victoriously. We raise a hallelujah to you Jesus once again. We trust you.

Faith and Global Concerns

This past week leadership decisions by our President and others led to escalated conflict between our nation and Iran. As I read about concerns about these interactions possibly leading to World War 3 it definitely gave me pause. I began to pray even more for our government leaders for wisdom and insight. I also admitted that it was scary and more than concerning.

Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed–or as the New Living Translation says “but don’t panic”. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. One of my friends posted on FB–let us pray that this is just a “rumor of war”. I like that addition and perspective. I live in a Navy town. Many of our MOPS moms are married to men in the military as well as many of the women in our church are active military. This hits home. One of my dear MOPS gals asked if we could get together to pray. As we gathered yesterday it became very real how these current incidents were impacting their families. It made the news even more real.

As we talked and shared it was evident that fear and uncertainty was trying to raise its ugly head. We began to pray for peace, protection and direction. During the prayer time I realized that we had to go higher than our political leaders and remember that our God is in control. I have read Matthew 24:6 many times. It is a sobering scripture. I did some research. There has been a war somewhere every year during the 20th Century! That also is sobering. Americans and Iranians do not hold a bigger share of the “fault” for all the war mongering. It is something innate to mans sinful nature. God is acutely aware of this. We are instructed to pray for peace–and then trust in the midst of it that God’s will and purpose will be accomplished.

I Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be save and to come to the knowledge of the truth. I urge us all to pray for our leaders. I ask you to pray for those deployed and those left at home–for their families–mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and children. Give them courage and strength as they trust their loved ones to God’s care. Pray for the chaplains and other believers to be the light in the midst of the darkness and to share the news of this great gospel of peace.

Pray for unity in our nation. Naturally it seems impossible–but we have not because we ask not. Let us follow the instructions given in Matthew 24:6–and choose not to panic, but to trust our God’s timeline and sovereignty. Release your faith, reign in your fear and let us work while it is still day to share the love of and peace of Jesus Christ as He leads. I am glad we can look forward to heaven where we can perfect peace.

Faith and Moving Cheese

Hmmmm–somebody’s been moving my cheese. Yep, I keep encountering cheese movers in my life. (If you haven’t read this little book by Spencer Johnson, ” Who Moved My Cheese?”, I recommend it!) As we end 2019 and begin not only a new year, but a new decade I have to accept that some where during this year my cheese will be moved. How I handle that, is up to me. Will I be frustrated, angry and resistant? Or will I trust the God of the Universe to help me navigate any changes up ahead?

Thanks to Facebook memories I re-read an post I wrote in the end of 2009. It was full of faith and understanding that although we did not know what was in store for us in 2010, our God did and we could trust Him. My cheese totally got moved in April 2010 when my husband suffered his heart attack/stroke. I had to lean on God’s character and faithfulness during the 2 1/2 years I was his caregiver. During that season I knew my life landscape was permanently altered and it would never be the same again. After his passing, my cheese continues to get moved. Not as drastic, but it happens.

Washington state put in new child safety laws for 2020. My granddaughter who has been out of a booster seat for two years barely squeaked by as she weighs 49 1/2 pounds–the cut off was 49. She would not have enjoyed going back to a booster seat–no matter how much safer they say she would be. Her cheese would definitely have been moved!

Years ago I accidentally mixed ammonia and bleach together thinking I was following a DIY recipe for a good floor cleaner. As I was on my hands and knees scrubbing my floor–it took me awhile to realize I was burning my lungs. At that moment I started moving my cheese myself for my health. I now struggle with asthma and its much easier for me to get pneumonia (which is why I missed the past two weeks of posting!). I am trusting God for His healing, wisdom and strategies for not being as strong as I thought I would be at this age.

As we enter 2020 I find myself hopeful, yet sober. It is hard for me to understand how we made it to such cultural shifts in my lifetime. I read where a woman was boasting how her abortion made her feel like god! My heart was sickened and I pray for her that she would begin to understand exactly what her choice did. I know the Bible tells us that men’s hearts are going to be hardened in the last days–but I admit I never thought exactly how that would look.

I believe God is ruling our universe–but in His wisdom and balance has given man much freedom to make our own choices. I can’t control others choices, but I can help influence them with His Word and His perspective (the best I can have!). Let us pray for our leaders, our friends and families that Truth shall be revealed and where the darkness has blinded eyes, the LIGHT shall prevail. Our God is reigning. Let us submit to His rule and trust any cheese moving will be for our benefit!

Faith and God's Sense!

I read this amazing scripture in Psalm 119:73-74 You made me, you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands. May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word . I know it isn’t quite New Year’s Eve and the resolutions which we try to make and follow, but I think this going to be mine this year.

I am sitting here with a horrible cold, sneezing and blowing my nose. It is not a pretty picture. But reading this simple scripture brought not only peace but perspective. A great reminder that I was made by Him and for Him. I love this prayer–now give me the sense to follow your commands!

The struggle is following those commands with joy and faith–knowing that they will lead to helping others find in me a cause for joy. I don’t feel very “followable” today–but that doesn’t mean that I cannot become an influencer for our Lord. I am so grateful that He understands my body as well as my soul. I am grateful that He understands and gives me the “sense” to rest when I need it. That is part of His commands. That is part of following Him. He made my body to heal with rest, He made my soul so that it can be restored, and He made my spirit to heal when I am overwhelmed. As we walk through this life–no matter what our season contains we can trust Him. As I am recovering, I am praying for two friends whose parents were unexpectedly taken to the hospital–God knows them and their needs. Another friend is watching their children struggle with their marriage–and yet God is helping them walk through those concerns.

Father, thank you for giving me your “sense”–your wisdom and your commands. I choose to trust your word in every area of my life. You are good.

Faith and Your Stand

Living this life God graciously given to us can be so complex, complicated and confusing. Our Life Group is beginning a study of the book of Ruth. One of the questions that our study of Ruth raised is what do you do when you do not see God’s movement in those difficult areas of life. How do we handle and carry these difficulties when we feel we have prayed our heart out, cried our eyes out and are still having to wait for God’s obvious intervention? It is not easy.

Ephesians 6:13-17 encourages us that when we have done all, stand, after we put on the whole armor of God. When we are weary it is not easy to get dressed to the full. We can find ourselves being a bit sloppy and too tired to hold up our shield or use our sword. But friends, it is especially important during the time of waiting and trusting–when we must be diligent to do the basics. Warfare is real. The battle is strong. But our God is faithful. As we stand in faith and pray for His insights not only will we find our situation changing, but we will find ourselves growing in strength, trust and faith. It is not easy. So what happens when you find yourself wanting to just quit? How can you keep going?

David in his time of struggle encouraged himself in the Lord. Do not be ashamed to back again to the Lord with your petitions and share your heart with Him, openly and freely. Ask for His strength. Do not isolate. Humble yourself if need be and ask for help. Ask for prayer. Gather together with other believers. We are not met to fight alone.

Take a break from the fight. Put it in God’s hands and do something out of your routine. Take a walk, turn on some music, read a book or watch a show. When the weight returns, and it will, thank Him for His help and fellowship in the suffering of the situation. Remember we do not know what He is doing behind the scenes to bring our story to His good end.

My Life group is made up of some very special women who have faced some of those complex, complicated and confusing challenges. One of the amazing things God has done is bring together a subset of women in our group who have relatives with mental health issues. You could actually see the strength they gathered from understanding that they were not alone in these struggles. Their situations did not change, but their hope and strength did. They are praying for each other and their loved ones as only one in the battle can pray. What a reminder that we are not alone in whatever battle we face–there is someone else who is facing it too. I take courage and comfort in the fact that God has helped others through my similar trials. This was especially comforting when I was adjusting to widowhood. I have applied it to marriage issues and parenting concerns as well. It releases faith and trust to know He’s not surprised by our trials!

This Christmas season is meant to be a joyous one–but for my friend whose wife past away last night–it will not be so easy. Let us look around and see who we can help encourage even when we may be in the struggle–we can encourage others. Take your stand and know I am praying for each of you. You are not alone.

Faith and Tops Chefs II

As I pondered the similarities of my own top chefs–people who minister the gospel in such a way the encourages me to “taste and see that the Lord is good”, it occurred to me that it is the heart of the chef that makes the difference. Every minister that I mentioned last week all desire to please Him first–no matter what. Each of their journeys have had their own difficult places in which they chose to keep on following Him, no matter the cost. This caused a tenderization of their heart as well as an understanding of fellowship with Him through suffering.

We each are given the same opportunity to push into Him and His ways in order to learn more of Him, or turn away with a hardened heart. As I look back at my life, I see times of relative peace–simply living life, raising children and enjoying my relationship with Jesus. I also remember my own difficult places where I found myself beseeching Him with fervent prayer desperately needing Him to bring revelation, answers and wisdom. It was during those times that I grew in my understanding of life and Him. I know that my top chefs also faced and conquered their own personal difficulties. It is in those seasons where our faith is tested–especially in when the answers are “no”, when we desperately desire yes’s that are faith is proven. Just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego, it is in the fire that our faith is proven. I wonder what their conversations was like in the fire with the “fourth man”!

Dear friends, keep on walking. Keep on trusting. Keep on choosing to “eat the meat” of your life, not just the sweets. It is the Word of God which is the stability of our times. If you find it difficult to read the Word, ask the Lord to give you an appetite for it. Take the scriptures your pastor preaches on Sunday and re-read them at home. Pick a Psalm and slowly read it. This is how you will grow in your own ability to help others taste and see that He is good.

People all around you need hope. If you are walking through a time of difficulty–please turn to Him and His body. Ask for help. Please do not feel you are alone in this life. The best chefs do not prepare the whole meal themselves, but glean from others. We need each other. You are needed.

Today is Thanksgiving in the US. Although many will gather to eat a meal, I am not sure how many really take the time to be thankful for what they have been given. This season of my life I have chosen to thank God for what is in my life, not what I feel is missing. I am a blessed woman. I am grateful. I am thankful for the difficulties that have brought me to a closer walk with Him. I am grateful for every “chef” who has encouraged me along my way. Many of my encouraging chefs are not even preachers–but simply believers who have walked with Him and proved Him. I thank you for the role model and strength you have given myself and others by simply walking with Him.

Faith and “Top Chefs”

Last week I wrote about Faith and Menus–encouraging us to live a life that will encourage others to “taste and see that the Lord is good”. I spent some time thinking about some of my “Top Chefs”–individuals who have influenced my life for Him, and why they were such an influence in my life.

My first “chef” was my dad–he loved to worship and listening to him play his guitar while I was supposed to be sleeping as he sang “In the Garden” enticed me to want to walk with Him and talk with Him and let Him tell me I was His own. He took us to a variety of church denominations, tent meetings and faithfully encouraged us to live generously. I learned from him to honor God’s family

I have to include Darryl Rodman as another of my favorite chefs. Darryl was taught to be an atheist as a child, but when Jesus made Himself real to Him, He passionately served and shared Him all of His days. Everything he did included His gift of faith. He was authentic, transparent and served up such a real Jesus that it was easy to want to follow Him.

Listening to Jack Hayford and reading his books encouraged me to seek to allow my character to be shaped and formed into His character. I admire this man for his marriage, his heart of worship and his faithfulness to listen and follow Holy Spirit. There are many more I have met through their writings–amazing men and women who have given me hope during my struggling days. Joyce Meyer, John Maxwell, Steve Furtick and others who continue to serve up the Word in such a way that makes me want to grow closer to Him. They give me hope that God can use this vessel of clay.

Some of my favorite chefs may not be as well known–but Harold and Bonnie Harding were close enough in our lives to help mentor us. They modeled hospitality, listening ears and how to overcome when life doesn’t go quite as planned. Their lives exampled perseverance, humility and forgiveness when many would have walked away. Bonnie is still walking towards Him and allowing Him to shape and shift her life as a widow, she is my hero.

Pastor Kevin Wilson of Living Word Fellowship in Voluntown, CT. is another amazing teacher of the Word who also is authentic and inspiring. He always sets the Word in its context of history and that touches my own personal history bent. P.K. is a man who points to Jesus and encourages us to stand taller and pursue Him harder.

Another of my favorite Top Chefs, is my current local chef–Pastor Michael Hurley and his wife Reshaun. They pastor my home church. I trust them to serve healthy fresh bread and meat because he strives to hear His voice and follow Him, not only for those of us who are members of Life Church, but because he desires to be His disciple–no matter where or what that obedience calls Him to do. He shares the pulpit freely with our other local chefs–Pastor Josh Hubbard and Pastor Quin Snyder. He is transparent and encouraging. The meals (messages) served are fresh because he spends time with the Master Chef. I appreciate you Pastor Michael for your humility.

Each of these chefs serve up a Jesus who is authentic and real. They encourage me to read His Word, grow in faith and service. I love these chefs and I am grateful for their impact and impartation into my own life. I hope that using the analogy of a “chef” is clear and will help us all desire to share Jesus in such a way that others will “taste and see that He is indeed good”.